With all the news about high gas prices, here's a surprise:

They were even higher last spring.

The peak price nationally this year for a gallon of regular was $3.94 a gallon on April 6 - about 4 cents above the latest levels, according to AAA.

On May 4, 2011, the cost was $3.98.

Shortly after that, a USA Today/Gallup poll found Americans expecting prices to rise to about $4.50 a gallon.

But the average never topped $4. By early December, prices fell to about $3.25 a gallon.

"Motorists and analysts alike are wondering if gas prices have peaked for the year," AAA reported Sunday. ". . . Crude oil continued its downward trend for the first half of the week, dropping to $101 per barrel Tuesday, its lowest value since February 14."

Lower levels could be coming, according to a report from energy trader and consultant Ritterbusch and Associates.

Wednesday's cost of crude was about $104, but falling demand could create "a sizable U.S. crude supply surplus during the coming months," said the report, which predicted: "We still see fresh lows to below the $100 mark by next week."

But that wouldn't rule out more rises.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration foresees the monthly average to peak in May at $4.01 a gallon, with an average for the year at about $3.81 a gallon.

That exceeds last year's $3.53, and the agency's forecast of $3.73 per gallon for 2013.

Today's average in Pennsylvania was $3.97 for a gallon on regular, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report (http://fuelgaugereport.aaa.com). In New Jersey: $3.80 a gallon.

In July 2008, the national average hit a record $4.11 a gallon, when crude reached $147 a barrel, according to AAA.

By the end of 2008, prices had plummeted to below $1.50 for a gallon of regular.

Nobody's predicting a repeat of that.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.